Pubdate: Wed, 01 Dec 2004
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2004 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Cited: Raich v. Ashcroft ( )
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The federal government has never acknowledged what so many doctors and
medical researchers years ago concluded -- that marijuana has healing
and pain-relieving qualities.

The federal law banning the drug under all circumstances was passed
based on evidence that recreational use of marijuana leads to
anti-social behavior and eventually to addiction.

It has never been amended to allow the medical use of marijuana,
despite studies showing how effective it can be for certain illnesses.

It's been aggravating for patients and their doctors to know that an
effective treatment exists but cannot be prescribed because of this
federal law.

That's why Nevada is among the 11 states that circumvented federal
intransigence on this issue and passed their own medical marijuana
laws. The state laws allow residents to use and possess small amounts
of marijuana if their doctor has prescribed it for them. Hovering over
these laws, however, has always been the shadow of the federal
government. Will the government move to have these laws stricken from
the books?

It's a question that has plagued states, which by now might have
established formal marijuana distribution systems for patients if the
fear of a federal crackdown was not so constant.

Well, the fear was justified.

In August 2002 federal agents seized six marijuana plants from a
patient in California, one of the states with a medical marijuana law
on its books.

The patient, suffering from a spine disease, turned to marijuana on
the advice of her doctor.

She had no option other than to grow her own supply of the drug. The
legality of the federal seizure is now being weighed by the U.S.
Supreme Court, which heard arguments this week and is expected to rule
on the case by next spring.

The decision will likely determine whether state medical marijuana
laws are legal.

When the decision is released, we hope to see that the justices bore
in mind these two salient facts about medical marijuana: No one has
been harmed by the states' laws. And thousands of sufferers, many of
them terminally ill, have found relief.
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